Super Rugby 2018: Youngsters to Watch

Rugby Player dives for the try line


There is some seriously exciting young talent set to make a mark in the 2018 Super Rugby tournament.

Every year, Super Rugby seems to unearth a new generation of international stars with the likes of Rieko Ioane, Damien McKenzie, Reece Hodge and Warrick Gelant making their international debuts off the back of solid Super Rugby campaigns. This year is set to be no different with a host of youngsters being touted to light up Super Rugby this year.
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Australia Conference

Ned Hannigan (Waratahs)
The jury is definitely split on the backrower with a lot of Australian rugby fans resembling him to a poor man's Owen Finnigan. I personally feel there's a lot more to Hannigan's game than just brute force and my money is on him proving it this season.

The 22-year-old is a very handy lineout option and gets through a lot of work, especially at the breakdown. He's also a solid tackler. He will need to work on his offload game, however, as he threw some really loose passes last season for both the Waratahs as well as the Wallabies.

Michael Little (Sunwolves)
This man has certainly lived an interesting life. Born in Italy, the son of former Fiji legend Walter Little has turned out for North Harbour in the Mitre 10 Cup since 2013. He was nominated for the 2016 Mitre 10 Cup Player of the Tournament award but his career has stagnated over the past two years or so.

The Sunwolves will offer the 24-year-old a new lease on life which I think the 92-kilogram fullback/centre will grasp with both hands.

Africa Conference

Robert du Preez Jnr (Sharks)
Like Michael Little, the eldest of the Du Preez boys is not exactly a young gun at the age of 24. He is an immaculate talent, and is on the verge of breaking into the Springboks squad after he guided Western Province to the 2017 Currie Cup title.

The fly-half will be reunited with his father and his two younger brothers this season as he has moved from the Cape Town-based Stormers and returned to Durban to play his trade with the Sharks. He should be an absolute hit with the Kings Park faithful who like their flyhalves to be physical.

While Du Preez's physicality is a great asset to have, it's his expansive rugby mind that makes him such a fascinating prospect for the Natalians.

Juarno Augustus (Stormers)
The 2017 IRB Under 20 Championship Player of the Tournament only turned 20 this past December but he's already being touted as a future Springbok stalwart.

The Tygerberg old boy is a devastating runner with a penchant for grabbing five pointers as was illustrated by his eight-try haul at last year's IRB Junior World Championship.

The 118-kilogram eighth man has an amazing turn of speed for one so heavy. He also has a slick pair of hands and gets through a bucket load of work in the loose. With Nizaam Carr possibly leaving for Wasps, for good, at the end of the Super Rugby season, Augustus could well become a fixture for both the Stormers and Western Province.

New Zealand

Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Chiefs)
The diminutive half-back has moved to Waikato after seeing his pathway to the Hurricanes starting XV blocked by All Black TJ Perenara.

The 22-year-old has already turned out for the Maori All Blacks and was one of Wellington's stand out players in last season's Mitre 10 Cup. Blessed with rapid pace and a solid pass, Tahuriorangi will be an absolute threat around the fringe for opposition sides. He will also pose a threat to commentators, as his name is just so damn hard to pronounce.

Asafo Aumua (Hurricanes)
Hands down the most exciting young prospect in this year's tournament, Hurricanes hooker Asafo Aumua is set to enjoy a breakthrough campaign with the Wellington-based franchise.

This youngster is an absolute dynamo who is able to skin wingers despite plying his trade as a hooker. He tore England apart at last year's Under 20 Championship and followed that sensational performance up with numerous barnstorming displays in the 2017 Mitre 10 Cup.

So prolific were his displays in those two tournaments that Steve Hansen named Aumua in his End of the Year touring party. And while Aumua didn't get an international cap on that tour, he will certainly have a handful by the close of this season.

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets.net

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